Sunday, June 15, 2008

It Only Takes a Moment-Mary Jane Clark

It Only Takes a Moment
Mary Jane Clark
Morrow, Aug 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780061286094

In Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, successful TV host of KEY to America, widow Eliza Blake loves her seven year old daughter Janie and trusts her Guatemalan housekeeper Carmen Garcia. However, after Janie goes off to day camp, a man masquerading as Popeye and a woman as Olive Oyl invade the Blake home; they inform a distraught Mrs. Garcia that they will harm the child if she fails to obey their demands. Wired, Mrs. Garcia signs out Janie from Camp Musquapsink, but leaves a note “Call Police” on the log.

When Eliza comes home she is surprised that her housekeeper is not there. Soon she becomes worried and calls the police. Because of who she is the FBI send Agent Barbara Gephart to head the investigation in which the prime suspect is Mrs. Garcia, but also focus on crazy fan mail and sex offenders. Her Sunrise Suspense Society cronies decide to activate while a seemingly successful psychic Stephanie Quick offers her services. As each hour ticks away, the chances of saving her daughter slips away exponentially.

The KEY to the latest “musical” New Jersey thriller (see WHEN DAY BREAKS, DANCING IN THE DARK, DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET and NOWHERE TO RUN) is Eliza as readers will feel her fear and pain. The story line is fast-paced, but clearly character driven by the beleaguered mother, the kidnappers and the snatched pair. The tension mounts as each minute and page that passes makes it unlikely Janie will be found alive while parents will ponder the apropos title that IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE to have one’s life nuked. Fans will appreciate this strong abduction thriller with a stunning final denouement.

Harriet Klausner